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WNBA to hold draft virtually on April 17

The event will still be broadcast on ESPN, just without all the fanfare that comes with it.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The WNBA announced its draft will be held on its originally scheduled date, but it won’t take its usual form due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 17, the draft will be conducted virtually. That means players, guests and media will not be present but commissioner Cathy Engelbert will still announce the picks live on ESPN, starting at 7 p.m.

It’s unclear how the exact process will go as the WNBA only specified that “top prospects will take part remotely.”

“The WNBA Draft is a time to celebrate the exceptional athletes whose hard work and dreams are realized with their selections in the draft,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “We will work diligently with our broadcast partner, ESPN, to create a memorable but virtual event that appropriately honors these accomplished athletes.”

The WNBA will also honor Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, the three players who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 that also killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant and three others.

UConn is expected to have two players go in the first round: point guard Crystal Dangerfield and forward Megan Walker, who declared early as a junior. Those two will become the 39th and 40th former Huskies to be drafted and will be 13th set of teammates to be taken in the same draft.

While UConn has always been well represented in the WNBA, the draft has treated former Huskies particularly well in the last four years. Since 2013, UConn has had more first round picks (13) than it had from 1998 to 2012 (12). Building on that, 13 of the Huskies’ last 14 picks have been first rounders, dating back to 2013.

Last season, 15 former UConn stars played in the WNBA. That number should to go up to 17 with the addition of Dangerfield and Walker.